Last week, we held our annual meeting with staff and board members. We celebrated accomplishments, thanked outgoing board members, welcomed incoming board members, witnessed the swearing in of our corporate board officers and were inspired by mission moments shared by a few of our Club Directors. During the swearing in ceremony, Ken Thomas raised his right hand to, once again, accept the role of Corporate Board Chair in 2018.

We recalled when Ken shared his experience after attending Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National conference in the spring. In the 2017 summer edition of our newsletter he wrote:

In May, I had the wonderful experience of attending the 2017 Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Conference in Dallas, along with my wife, Sharon. It was overwhelming to see so many BGCA volunteers, professionals and kids from all over the country. We were all there to learn, celebrate achievements and, yes, have some fun. If you ever get a chance to attend one of the national or regional conferences, be prepared to be inspired!

One of the highlights was the induction of alumni into the BGCA Alumni Hall of Fame. It was inspiring to hear how the Clubs transformed the lives of scientists, doctors, professional athletes and actors. They all had amazing stories of overcoming adversity to achieve amazing things in their professional and personal lives. Triple H, a professional wrestler, even theorized that because of the transformation through involvement in the Clubs, BGCA alumni will one day, not just solve problems with education or poverty, but will actually save the world from impending doom from meteors that are targeting Earth!

I learned how other local Boys & Girls Clubs’ boards operate, what are considered to be best practices and where to get resources for board members. I also learned about the power of a story and heard many moving stories. The Regional and National Youth of the Year representatives were impressive and motivating as they shared their stories. Overall, it reinforced that what we do matters and lives can be transformed in the process.
It was an amazing experience!

Help transform lives. Get Involved. Donate. Volunteer.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County and the Buffalo Wild Wings® located at Centre Point Commons, 4120 14th Street West in Bradenton, are inviting community members to visit the restaurant to join in the Community Day celebration on April 19 and help raise funds.  As a part of the Team Up for Kids® mission, the restaurant will donate 10 percent of total sales that day along with 100 percent of all guest donations made to help support sports programs at the Clubs.

Buffalo Wild Wings’ Team Up for Kids mission and partnership with Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) supports youth sports through ALL STARS grants for flag or tackle football, basketball, cheer, dance,  step, and soccer teams at Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. In additional to the more than $730,000 raised on Community Day 2016, Buffalo Wild Wings’ partnership enabled over 88,000 youth to participate on teams. The company also awarded grants to hundreds of Clubs across the country. In total, Buffalo Wild Wings, along with its Guests, donated more than $4.1 million to BGCA in 2016.

Boys & Girls Clubs believes that all children and teens deserve a great future. With Partners like Buffalo Wild Wings, Clubs and supporters are working to mobilize communities around the critical issues facing youth in their neighborhood.

Thanks to Buffalo Wild Wings, the ALL STARS program motivates kids to lead a healthy lifestyle through team sports while building good sportsmanship and self-esteem for Club kids.

Selected among three outstanding youth, Nicklaus Charles-Crowl has been named the Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County. The Youth of the Year title is a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle. Now in its 70th year, the Youth of the Year program honors our nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures and encourages all kids to lead, succeed and inspire. Nicklaus, a senior at Bayshore High School, will now vie for the Florida Youth of the Year title and a $5,000 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Now 18 years old, Nicklaus has been a Club member since he was six. At the age of 8, Nicklaus and his family were in a car accident that took the life of his mother and brother, Christopher (9 yrs old). Nicklaus recalls the support the Club gave him through that very difficult time. “They helped my family with whatever they needed and still do today,” he said.

“I have seen Nicklaus grow and thrive in the teen program, ‘The CLUB,’ and serve as an inspiration to those that he serves at the Club, at school, on his basketball team and in the community,” said Leann Frink, Club Director of the DeSoto Boys & Girls Club. “His commitment to being a humble leader is infectious.”

Nicklaus says, “My purpose in life is to bring light to the eyes of those who look up to me and to be an example to those that I come in contact with. I know that my life was spared for a reason. I know that I am here to impact my family, friends, teammates and community in a positive way.”

If Nicklaus wins at the state competition, he will compete for the title of Southeast Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 college scholarship, renewable for four years up to $40,000. Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C. in September 2017, to compete for the title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of $25,000, renewable each year up to $100,000 and will have the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States in the White House.

Nicklaus will be attending Wisconsin Lutheran College in the fall, where he will study sport and exercise science and business while playing football and running track for the Warriors.


The Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County officially launched its Invest in Kids Campaign today as volunteers, staff, and local officials gathered for a firsthand look at plans to build a 41,000 square foot building to replace the current DeSoto Club facility located at 34th Street and 53rd Avenue in Bradenton. The campaign, with a goal of $7.5 million, will build a new Club and provide an endowment to sustain operations. To date, more than $4.4 million has been raised.

“As the Chairman of the Invest in Kids Campaign, I must tell you what an honor it is to share this moment with you all,” said local attorney Caleb Grimes, who heads the effort to build the new Club. “I am a product of the Boys & Girls Club and have many fond memories of my time there. We are excited to move ahead with plans to rebuild our DeSoto Club in order to help even more kids to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens for generations to come.

Construction of the new Club will begin sometime in the next 12 months, according to Dawn Stanhope, President & CEO of the organization. Plans include a modern, welcoming new campus-style building just east of where the current Club stands. There will be separate entrances for teens and younger school-aged children, with dedicated space inside to focus on academics, character & citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. After the building’s completion, the current building will be razed for future usage, not yet determined.

“The current site has served us well,” said Stanhope, “but the 50-year-old aging facility is now functionally obsolete. The new site will bring our program spaces into the 21st century, creating dynamic areas that invite kids to learn, grow, work together and most importantly – have fun! We will be able to serve nearly triple the amount of kids we serve now on a daily basis – up to 600 every day. Getting kids off of waiting lists and into the Clubs is important in our ability to further our mission. This building will be a shining example of our community’s commitment to children.”

Conceptual plans include an 18,500 square foot teen center, a learning center for homework help and other academic activities, and a commercial kitchen that will be used to not only provide healthy snacks to the members, but also serve as a culinary laboratory for a future Bobby Flay or Ina Garten. Once the design/build team has been chosen and work commences, the estimated time from pre-construction to completion will be 18 months. In the meantime, the existing Club will remain operational to avoid disruption of service.

Major donors to the project include local developer Patrick Neal and his wife, Charlene. The Neal’s gift of $1 million will underwrite a new sports/flex field. Other donors include the Deerbrook Charitable Trust, which has pledged a matching gift of up to $1 million. The Trust, headquartered in Chevy Chase, MD, has designated its gift in honor of retired Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County President, Carl Weeks. In addition to the board’s 100% participation, over 70 staff members have contributed to the project to date – including many that work in other Club locations throughout the county.

“We still have a way to go to reach our goal, of course,” said Grimes. “But this project is vital to the youth of Manatee County. We have to expand our reach to serve those who need us most. The Clubs provide a safe, nurturing environment that can change the trajectory of a person’s life in a positive way. Invest in Kids is a must-do for the Boys & Girls Clubs and the community as a whole. Our children not only need a new Club, they deserve it.”

More information about the Invest in Kids Campaign click here or call Francine Diemer at 941-761-2582, option 5.